Monday, February 9, 2009

Experience installing Debian on Lenovo S10

You know one of those new lines of UMPC that's being displayed here and there. It seems too small for anybody to use it, and most of the time it looks like a toy rather than a serious piece of machine. Anyway, I got one, and here I am sharing some of my experience using the Lenovo S10.

The Lenovo S10 has no optical drive, you have to be creative in installing Debian on it. The factory default comes with Windows XP pre-installed and it has 3 partitions in its 160G HDD. The partition is used for Windows XP, a second partition where all the drivers are kept just incase you need to do a reinstallation, and the third partition is used for auto-recovery feature where Windows XP installation files reside.

I didn't get rid of windows totally. This is because, I still use Windows XP occasionally. Some of the work I do just runs on Windows and I have no choice but to be dependent on XP. But I can make it dual boot and have the freedom to choose which OS I want to use on the laptop. The first thing you need to do is partitioning the hard disk. For this, I use gparted loaded onto a usb pen drive. I went to gparted website to download the image and also for the instructions of creating a Live USB image. After creating your gparted live usb, you can enter the bios, and boot through the usb pen drive. Then you need to partition the harddisk to your liking and create a partition for Linux. I only took about 20G of harddisk space for Debian. I figured the windows partition is in FAT32, and that i can mount later to use for storage if I need to use it. Make sure you don't delete the Windows XP recovery partition if you want to keep Windows XP recovery feature on your Ideapad.

After partitioning, you can now download and create an usblive pen drive for your debian installation. I use Debian Lenny. Make sure you get the latest weekly or daily built for lenny debian installer for this if you want to detect the ethernet network card. I download the i386 netinstall for the usb image. After downloading the image, you need to create the usb live CD. I followed the easiest way to create a live-usb stick, which is just zcat an image into a usb thumb drive.

pontianak:~$ zcat boot.img.gz >/dev/sdb1

This is the simplest way to create a live-usb thumb-drive, but it limits your thumbdrive partition to 250M. so hence the image you'll be using is netinstall. And you have to install the other packages through network install. You can download a larger image if you followed a different method. Someone made an excellent documentation in creating usb live images, you can go here to his site to see the other methods you can use.

Then after setting the bios to boot from usb, you can boot your debian image and install debian on the partition you've created with gparted.

After a few hours as debian download all the necessary packages for your system (this can take a while if you are using streamyx, unless you have a really fast T1 connection at the office, you might be better off just having a base install and work from there by downloading only the necessary packages.) I anyhow waited several hours to get all the packages, like gnome, office and etc for a complete system. After all the waiting, I have debian complete lenny system installed. Everything seems to work, except for the internal mic and wireless network. Luckily, there are some work around. As for now, below are the things that seems to work.

ProcessorYes Shows up as 2 CPUs due to HyperThreading.
ScreenYes 1024x600 resolution, because the screen is really small, the windows doesn't seem to fit nicely in the screen. It might be better to make the font smaller. Under the gnome preferences-->appearance, I've made mine to size 6.
GraphicsSomewhatLooks ok, however, the touch pad mouse seems to be moving really fast. You can adjust this on gnome, but it seems that the vertical movement of the cursor is faster than the horizontol movement.
SoundYes Alsa seems to work nicely
EthernetYes Should work with lenny daily built
WirelessYes You need to download the latest broadcom driver for this, then you can easily use gnome network manager to get the wireless working. Of course, you can also use iwconfig if you prefer the old fashion way. Thanks to another person who have done it, his instructions was helpful and can be found here. And the driver can be downloaded from broadcom website.
BluetoothNot Tested S10 does not come with Bluetooth built in,at least not the current models being sold. I believe the next coming models would have it by default. You can buy a bluetooth module, and install it manually, of course you need some kind of hand shop skills.
USBYes Seems to work nicely.
Card ReaderYes Seems to work, automounter detects my SD card and mounts it automatically.
I tested this using the SD card from my digital camera.
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested
Camera/WebcamYes Tested this with skype and managed to keep a conversation going for about 30 minutes.
Battery Yes
It seems to detect correctly if the power is plugged in or not, and is capable to tell you how much time you have till the battery runs out. I'm not really sure if the calculated time is correct...but it looks like its working.
Microphone Somewhat
The internal mic does not appear to work on debian lenny. However, if you need to use the mic to make a skype call, using the mic-in jack seems to work nicely. Its only the internal mic that is not working. So you need to get a headphones with microphone to make skype calls. There is some people saying that recompiling the latest Alsa may help, I haven't tried this yet.